After being dissed by ESPN's radio affiliate in Los Angeles in a promo that touted Wednesday's game against the Cavs as the Lakers' last practice before the All-Star break, the Cavs rose up for a 104-99 victory.
Actually, both the Cavs and Lakers acted like they'd heard the spot. The Lakers did treat the outing as a practice, while the Cavs played inspired.
While the triumph over the Clippers Friday may be a close second, I thought it was the most determination shown by the Cavs since their season-opening victory over Boston.
Some might say both of those victories deserve asterisks. The Lakers were antsy to return home, with Cleveland the final stop on a seven-game, two-week road trip. Boston was playing the second night of a back-to-back and coming off an emotional victory over the Miami Heat.
But the fact that the Cavs looked like a different team than the one that lost to the Lakers by 55 points at Staples Center on Jan. 11 was more than encouraging. While the Cavs have still lost 37 of their last 40, coach Byron Scott can sleep easier knowing that they've won 2 of their last 3.
Other encouraging sights:
* Christian Eyenga's third-quarter posterizing of Pau Gasol for a dunk that should take up a good chunk of this season's highlight reel. Eyenga is the most intriguing youngster on the roster, J.J. Hickson included.
* The Cavs prevailing without Mo Williams, who played only 3 minutes after aggravating an ankle injury suffered against the Clippers. Williams will not be part of the Cavs' core as they rebuild for the future.
* Ramon Sessions' 32-point, 8-assist night. It's hard to tell whether his performance will keep the Cavs from considering a point guard in the draft, but he's making progress. He also showed his grit by making 5 of 6 free throws down the stretch to seal the victory.
* STO analyst Austin Carr kept harping during the broadcast that the Cavs had to keep it a two-possession game and for the most part they did, mainly by making 8 of 10 from the free throw line in crunch time.
* I'm sure Scott would like to see more clutch shooting like Anthony Parker displayed, going 7 of 13 from the field. Too often during the losing streak, Parker was throwing up wild, off-balance attempts in the fourth quarter, as was Antawn Jamison.
* With the trade deadline Feb. 24, I wonder if Cavs GM Chris Grant will use this game as evidence to stand pat. But the Cavs need draft picks and surely wouldn't pass up a chance to get more.